My sister is on a last chance list.  When a shelter has a dog that will be euthanized, they send out the alarm to the no kill shelters who in turn, if they don’t have room, start calling people on the last chance list.  My sister has three last chance dogs.  Her soft spot is pit bulls and they are all part pit.

george and nina

george and nina

Nina has three legs.  She was thrown out of a window.  I don’t know Nina very well but I’ve been told she has figured out how to get down on her belly to stalk the squirrels in the backyard.



George was a stray for over a year.  He is part pit and part something enormous, mastiff perhaps.  He had only been in Carrie’s house for a few days, when she was invaded by out of state family-six of us.  The next day there was a blizzard, trapping us all in the house.  George went from living outside on his own, to the chaos of sharing space with ten people, ten strangers.  Not for one moment, was he skittish or uneasy.  He found a spot under the kitchen table and there he stayed.  Once in awhile, we’d hear a sigh of contentment.  George was home and he knew it.

nina and sandy before she becomes wanda

nina and sandy before she becomes wanda

A few weeks ago, she got another call.  A 7 month old puppy found abandoned in the Bronx, named Sandy.  She had kennel cough and mange when she arrived at the shelter in Connecticut.  When Carrie was finally able to pick her up and bring her home, she sent me a picture of her in the car, sitting up, looking out the window.  I will let this picture speak for itself. IMG_0772 It is haunting.  This is a puppy who has known not a minute of kindness.  It is quite possible she was born to an already abandoned mother.  She looks old.  She looks bewildered.  She looks stoic and resigned to whatever the fates have in store for her.  She does not yet know that she is a very lucky puppy, but then she never had the chance to be a puppy.  It has not been the easiest of adjustments.  Both she and George were strays so meal time has to be in separate rooms.  Food is survival and that memory must die hard.  They have re-named her Wanda. IMG_0770 It’s a good name-sturdy and secure.  Sandy’s past is filled with hunger, pain and terror.  Wanda’s future is filled with love, companionship, a food bowl of her very own, and a spot on the bed.


God bless the people who work the phones in these shelters and those who transport these dogs to shelters that can take them, and, most of all, God bless the people who answer those last chance phone calls.

wanda finally looking like the puppy she is

wanda finally looking like the puppy she is


Leek Bread Pudding adapted from the Ad Hoc Cookbook

  • 2 cups 1/2″ thick slices leeks – green & white green parts only
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 cups 1″ cubes crustless brioche or french bread
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded Comte’ or Emmentaler cheese


Put leeks in a large bowl of tepid water and swish so any dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl.  Lift leeks from the water and place in a medium saute’ pan over medium high heat.  Season with salt to taste and cook, stirring often for about five minutes until soft. IMG_1104 Lower the heat to medium low, stir in the butter to emulsify and add fresh ground pepper to taste.  Cover with a parchment lid (a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of  your pan with a hole to vent steam in the middle).  Cook, stirring every 10 minutes until leeks are very soft – about 30 minutes.  


Spread the bread cubes on a cookie sheet and toast in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until dry and golden.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add the leeks and toss with the bread cubes.  Add the thyme and chives.  Leave the oven on.


Whisk the eggs in another bowl.  Whisk in the milk, cream and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Spread half the leeks and croutons on top.  Sprinkle with another 1/4 cup of cheese.  Spread remaining leeks and croutons over the top and top with another 1/4 cup cheese.  Pour enough of the egg, cream and milk mixture over the top to cover the leeks and croutons.  Let soak for 15 minutes.  Add the remaining liquid and top with the last 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake for 90 minutes until the custard is set and the top is brown and bubbling.


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  1. lillianccc says:

    The picture of Wanda looking out the car window really does say a lot. How beautiful and touching to see that these three dogs now have a home to call their own. Your sister has such a kind, loving heart.

  2. Oh, my, your sister is a generous angel to these last chance dogs. I never knew such a list existed but, for the dogs who have found her way to her house, what fortunate creatures….finally.

  3. i didn’t know about such lists either. it’s heartening to know that every thing possible is done by selfless people to find homes for animals that other people have so cavalierly discarded. We’re all pulling for Wanda to find her puppyhood again.

  4. snati001 says:

    Looks like great recipes. Sweet dogs! This post resonates for me. Thank you to your sister and the people that work hard for these animals. We got both of our dogs from a rescue situation and one of them we officially adopted a couple of days ago, a sweet 7-year old one-eyed Pekingese. He was returned twice, but he won’t be in a shelter or foster ever again. We already spoil him like his sister, a Papillon-mix we have had for almost 4 years (she was found as a puppy in an empty house that was foreclosed). Love these dogs so much and am so thankful for these organizations and the last chance list. I try to help and volunteer at least once a week for a no-kill organization and love helping to take care of the cats!

  5. TBM says:

    Oh I love this. So many people should not have pets since they just aren’t capable of taking care of them and loving them. I admire your sister and thank goodness she has such a big heart. I hope everyone has a wonderful and happy time. Every creature deserves to be loved, not tossed away.

  6. thanks. george and nina adjusted immediately. wanda’s having a bit of time. i think having never had a home before now makes it harder for her to let go of the fear. she’s looking a little better in every photo. i’ll be happy when my sister writes that she ate or shoe or something puppy like. i know my sister won’t give up on her though.

  7. Carrie says:

    She has eaten several shoes, a hairbrush, a chew toy!! She cries to go out to go to bathroom and she sleeps soundly on her old love seat which we want to throw out-but it seems to be HER spot!

  8. yay! everyone is pulling for wanda-and thankful to you for loving her.

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